On Sunday, the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO) saw a full house of people who had flocked to the office to renew their permits. But, they had to return empty-handed, since the RTO officials only checked their paperwork, but did not collect fees from them.
It was a complete waste of day for Vijaya Jaywant More, a widow in her late 50s, who had gone to the RTO with her son and daughter to get their auto rickshaw licence re-approved.
She told MiD DAY, “After the death of my husband, my son started driving his auto, our only source of income. But the permit is in my husband’s name. Since the last couple of months, we have been frequenting the RTO to get the permit number, but every time we visit, they demand a different set of documents.If the permit doesn’t come through, we will lose our income and it will be difficult for us to survive.”
More has seven members in her family. Renewal of auto permits is done every five years. After the auto drivers complete the formalities, a permit number is given to them by the RTO. Recently, the Pune RTO shifted to a new operating system, Vahan, for its administrative work. Many of the staffers are still to get the hang of it. But, the onus remains on auto drivers to renew their permits before tomorrow, or they will be cancelled.
Auto rickshaw driver Vitthal Jagtap said, “I came here in the morning, and this is my fourth time here to get the permit. After checking my documents, the staff refused to accept the money and gave me a receipt instead of the permit. There is a lot of mismanagement, and common people like me suffer because of it.”
Looking at the scenario and the sheer number of permit applicants, it is impossible to finish the mountainous task in the last couple of days of this year.
The auto rickshaw unions are dem
anding an extension of one month to get the permits. Datta Ghule, a union leader, told MiD DAY, “This is unfair to all the drivers. The livelihood of thousands of families will be at risk if the permits are not renewed. We should get at least a month’s extension to get the work done.”
Deputy regional transport officer, Anil Valiv, said, “It being a Sunday, we decided to go for verification of documents first, as it takes more time. There was also the question of where to keep the collected fees, as the bank is closed today. So, we will collect the cash tomorrow (Monday). More staff and windows will be appointed for this work and we will try our best to complete the renewals of as many people before the year ends.”